Teahen To The White Sox

Dayton Moore has made a lot of bad trades and been roundly criticized for a lot of his decisions as the Kansas City GM. Today, though, we stand and applaud, because he reportedly kicked off the off-season with a fantastic deal for his club, sending 3B/OF Mark Teahen to the White Sox for 2B Chris Getz and DH Josh Fields.

Let’s start with Teahen. He’s been rumored to be trade bait for a couple of years now, as he had been displaced by Alex Gordon at third base and split time between the infield and the outfield looking for a permanent home. A large part of the reason he hasn’t been able to land at any single spot on the diamond is because he just isn’t very good.

Teahen is 28-years-old and has accumulated 2,732 plate appearances in the big leagues. He has a career .269/.331/.419 line that works out to a .327 wOBA, which makes him a slightly below average hitter. He’s just average across the board. He makes some contact, he walks a little bit, he has some gap power, and he runs okay, but he’s not good at any one particular offensive skill.

A league average bat has value if he can help a team out defensively, but Teahen isn’t a great defender. His UZR at third base is downright terrible, which is why it should be no surprise that the White Sox apparently plan on using him as an outfielder. He’s okay in a corner, but he’s nothing special, and the combination of an average bat and average defense in a corner outfield spot makes for a below average player overall.

That’s basically what we see with Teahen. He’s accumulated +5.0 WAR over his career, working out to just over +1 win per full season. He’s a useful major league player, but not one that should be starting regularly on a club that wants to win. When you factor in that he’s a second year arbitration eligible player, likely due for a 2010 salary of around $5 million or so, Teahen is basically a zero value asset. His cost is about the same as his contribution.

That Kenny Williams gave up Getz and Fields for the right to pay Teahen about what he’s worth is kind of crazy. Both of the two players going to KC have flaws – Getz lacks power and Fields can’t play defense – but they’re cheap and have a little upside beyond what they’ve shown in the majors. Fields has serious home run power and could add some value as a slugging 1B/DH type for the league minimum. Getz makes a bunch of contact and can play second base adequately. Both are role players or fringe starters, but they make the league minimum and offer some useful skills.

The two players Moore got back from KC aren’t franchise changers – they’re just useful parts to have around in spring training when putting a roster together. Teahen is just not someone that should be making significant money, and given his arbitration status, he’s basically a non-value asset. The White Sox could have acquired a similar or better player by just spending the $5 million they’ll give him in free agency without sacrificing any talent.

This is the right move for the Royals, clearing payroll and bringing in some younger talent that could help the team in the future. For the White Sox, this is yet another sign of the questionable talent evaluation methods used by Kenny Williams. There was no reason to give up anything of value for Teahen. All he’s done with this move is give himself a right fielder who shouldn’t play everyday and open up a bigger hole at second base.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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